The Greens welcome the passage of the Parliamentary Workplace Support Services bills in the Senate today.
These bills are an important step in the right direction, but we need to see further reforms to parliamentary culture, including an enforceable Code of Conduct for politicians and senior staff, rolled out nationally as a matter of urgency.
Lines attributable to Greens leader in the Senate and spokesperson on Women, Larissa Waters
“We wouldn’t be debating these bills or any of the preceding workplace reforms to address sexual harassment in the last few years were it not for the bravery of young female parliamentary staff; Brittany Higgins, Dhanya Mani, Chelsey Potter, Rachelle Miller, Tessa Sullivan, Josie Coles, women who have survived sexual harassment or abuse at work, survivors like Saxon Mullins, and those who fight to keep students safe on campus Sharna Bremner and Nina Funnell, so many other women and some men whose strength and resilience is driving this change.
“The Set the Standard report found that one-in-three parliamentary staffers in this building had experienced some form of sexual harassment, as had many female parliamentarians.
This is unacceptable. Everyone has a right to a safe workplace. Whether that is in parliament house or anywhere else.
“One of the hurdles identified in Set the Standards was that staff are reluctant to come forward if there is no real prospect that an MP will be sanctioned. Consequences are crucial.
“Passing these bills today is a step in the right direction, but it is a tiny step. Cultural diversity is still lacking in our workplace. Parliament is still not a safe, equal, inclusive and respectful workplace for everyone.
“The Greens will continue to push for the reforms to parliamentary culture, including an enforceable Code of Conduct for politicians and senior staff, to be rolled out nationally as a matter of urgency.
“Both Houses of parliament have now endorsed Codes of Conduct for behaviour, but there is still no independent body to investigate breaches and enforce the Codes. Work to set up that body that will enforce those Codes, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Commission, is complex, but there is no doubt it’s been too slow.
“The Greens are disappointed that the original timeframe to establish the IPSC has blown out from October 2023 to February 2024, and we will continue to insist that no further delays occur.
“While that work to establish the IPSC is being done, it is a responsibility of every MP to act consistently with the commitments they made when endorsing the Codes, and for all parties to act quickly in response to complaints.”